Originally, the collaborative was focused on studying and fully understanding the dimensions of the dropout crisis. The key questions were:
- Who drops out in Philadelphia?
- When do they drop out?
- Why do they drop out?
- What are some characteristics we can know about them, e.g., how near or far from graduation are they, based on high school credits earned? What public systems do they populate?
Through their analysis of the dropout problem in Philadelphia, Ruth Curran Neild and Robert Balfanz found that during the 2003-2004 school year over 13,000 students became dropouts or near dropouts in Philadelphia. More information on the dropout problem in Philadelphia can be found in their report, Unfulfilled Promise: The Dimensions and Characteristics of Philadelphia’s Dropout Crisis, 2000–2005 (PDF, 52 pages).
Based on that information and additional findings from the report, the collaborative focused on developing a plan to reduce and eliminate the dropout issue including drawing attention to the dropout crisis and leveraging resources to resolve the issue.